April 28, 1950

PRIVILEGE

STATEMENT OF AUDITOR GENERAL BEFORE SENATE

LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, may I as a matter of privilege, but not referring to a report in Hansard, refer to the Montreal Gazette of this morning and ask that there be a correction made in the dispatch entitled:

Sellar urges radical changes in presentation of estimates.

Auditor General critical of officials by-passing spending authority; suggests free food sent overseas needed by workless of Canada.

In the course of the report it is stated that three important briefs were presented by Mr. Sellar to a house committee and then the report continues:

In one of the briefs, Mr. Sellar criticized the principle of gifts of food by the farm prices support and like bodies to organizations in Europe and Palestine which were caring for refugees, especially the undernourished children. Mr. Sellar said that it was surplus food supplies that were given to Europe but he thought that such surpluses should be distributed in Canada if and where real need existed.

I am sure that any member of parliament who read that would be surprised that a public official would be expressing opinions on policy before a parliamentary committee. I immediately got the briefs in question. Although I do not wish to be critical of the gentleman who attempted to summarize them, because they were quite long-as they had to be, because it was necessary for the Auditor General to make reference to the authorities upon which his objective statements were based-I would suggest to him that he read the briefs again. I am sure he will not be able to find, any more than I was able to find, anything that would give the slightest colour to that kind of paragraph.

Civil servants are often taxed with being bureaucrats, but they are in a position where they cannot speak for themselves here, and I suggest that the gentleman who wrote that dispatch when he reads this will in fairness to Mr. Sellar wish to correct the false impression to be derived from the paragraph I have just quoted. I am sure he will do that after he has had time to peruse carefully the briefs he was attempting to summarize.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   STATEMENT OF AUDITOR GENERAL BEFORE SENATE
Sub-subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORT IN MONTREAL "GAZETTE"
Permalink
PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell (Greenwood):

I think the Prime Minister is perfectly correct in his reference to what was disclosed in the briefs presented to the committee; nevertheless in the discussion which took place I think the points that appear in the newspaper article did come out, and I believe it only fair to the reporter to say that this did happen. I want also to make it clear that in my opinion there was nothing whatever in the attitude of the Auditor General which suggested that he was trying to lecture members of parliament or tell us our duty. Indeed his attitude was entirely the reverse, and he was very emphatic about that. In fairness to the pressman in question I think it should be said that what the Prime Minister read from the newspaper account in my opinion does cover the course of the conversation that took place in the committee.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   STATEMENT OF AUDITOR GENERAL BEFORE SENATE
Sub-subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORT IN MONTREAL "GAZETTE"
Permalink
LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. St. Laurent:

Well, Mr. Speaker, I was not present in the committee, and probably there will be an occasion to discuss what took place there when the committee reports. Until it does I would not attempt to infringe the standing order concerning matters being considered by committees. But the paragraph I read positively states that in one of the briefs Mr. Sellar made the observations which are reported. I refer to the briefs because they are not before the committee only; they are available to everyone, and there is nothing in the briefs which would justify a statement of that kind.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   STATEMENT OF AUDITOR GENERAL BEFORE SENATE
Sub-subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORT IN MONTREAL "GAZETTE"
Permalink
PC

Gordon Knapman Fraser

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fraser:

It was in discussing the briefs that what was contained in the newspaper report came out.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   STATEMENT OF AUDITOR GENERAL BEFORE SENATE
Sub-subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORT IN MONTREAL "GAZETTE"
Permalink
LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. St. Laurent:

Well, I hope it did not

come out in that form. I should hope no public servant would attempt to usurp the functions of those who are elected by the people.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   STATEMENT OF AUDITOR GENERAL BEFORE SENATE
Sub-subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORT IN MONTREAL "GAZETTE"
Permalink
PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Speaking as a member of that committee, may I say that Mr. Sellar is not in the position of a civil servant. He is responsible to the House of Commons and to parliament. He made it very clear today that in what he said there was no question of endeavouring to dictate. Indeed I cannot understand the attitude the Prime Minister has taken.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   STATEMENT OF AUDITOR GENERAL BEFORE SENATE
Sub-subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORT IN MONTREAL "GAZETTE"
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Order.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   STATEMENT OF AUDITOR GENERAL BEFORE SENATE
Sub-subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORT IN MONTREAL "GAZETTE"
Permalink
PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

This man was called

before a committee of the Senate and asked

Empire Day

for his suggestions, which he gave. After all he is not just a civil servant; he is responsible only to parliament.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   STATEMENT OF AUDITOR GENERAL BEFORE SENATE
Sub-subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORT IN MONTREAL "GAZETTE"
Permalink
LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. St. Laurent:

But whether responsible to parliament or to the government, it is not the function of officials to determine matters of policy. The hon. member expressed surprise at my attitude. He could not have listened to the terms used in this newspaper article, in which it is said that Mr. Sellar stated in one of the briefs that he thought such surpluses should be distributed in Canada if and where real need existed. I am sure the hon. member did not catch that statement.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   STATEMENT OF AUDITOR GENERAL BEFORE SENATE
Sub-subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORT IN MONTREAL "GAZETTE"
Permalink
PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

It was the last statement made by the Prime Minister to which I was referring.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   STATEMENT OF AUDITOR GENERAL BEFORE SENATE
Sub-subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORT IN MONTREAL "GAZETTE"
Permalink
?

Jean-Paul Stephen St-Laurent

Mr. Si. Laurent:

I am sure the hon. member did not catch that part of the paragraph to which I was making special reference.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   STATEMENT OF AUDITOR GENERAL BEFORE SENATE
Sub-subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORT IN MONTREAL "GAZETTE"
Permalink
LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. Pouliol:

Lake Centre should not lean too much on bureaucracy.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   STATEMENT OF AUDITOR GENERAL BEFORE SENATE
Sub-subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORT IN MONTREAL "GAZETTE"
Permalink

EMPIRE DAY

MAY 23 CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP AND CANADA'S POSITION IN THE COMMONWEALTH

LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister):

I should like to make a brief statement regarding the ceremonies which are being organized for May 23 of this year. As hon. members know, for a number of years May 23 has been observed in most provinces as Empire day.

Topic:   EMPIRE DAY
Subtopic:   MAY 23 CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP AND CANADA'S POSITION IN THE COMMONWEALTH
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

May 24.

Topic:   EMPIRE DAY
Subtopic:   MAY 23 CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP AND CANADA'S POSITION IN THE COMMONWEALTH
Permalink
LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. St. Laurent:

No, May 23. May 24 is

a legal holiday, but on the day before in the schools of many of the provinces there are ceremonies; and the occasion has been described as Empire day. Originally it was-

-a day devoted specially to the study of the history of Canada and to such special other exercises as might tend to increase the interest of the pupils in their own country and strengthen their attachment to the empire to which they belong-

-to quote from the original definition of the purpose of the ceremonies, in 1899. We have received representations from many organizations that some occasion should be provided for emphasizing the advantages and responsibilities of Canadian citizenship in respect of our status and worth in the commonwealth and to the world.

It seemed appropriate that this might be done in the schools in each province on May 23, in such a manner as might be decided upon by the provincial educational authorities, without in any way interfering

with the exercises traditionally observed on that occasion, but rather as supplementing them.

We therefore consulted the provincial premiers and it has been arranged that on May 23 this year the occasion might be found in the schools to give attention to Canadian citizenship as the basis of our position in the commonwealth. It is not intended that it should be a public holiday, but that suitable exercises could be observed, both in schools and by public-spirited organizations, in order that we may become more deeply conscious of our own citizenship and all that it implies.

Topic:   EMPIRE DAY
Subtopic:   MAY 23 CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP AND CANADA'S POSITION IN THE COMMONWEALTH
Permalink

FLOOD CONDITIONS

April 28, 1950